Monday, February 11, 2013

Did You Know?

How New Federal and State Policy Mandates Affect Students, Teachers, Our Community, Our Taxes and Public Education:
  • Testing is overtaking teaching. For example, nine-year-olds sit for tests for 11 hours - longer than the SAT and Graduate Record Examinations combined.
  • Test-based federal and state mandates take millions of tax dollars away from academic and after-school programs that our districts wants to offer.
  • The purposes of education in a democratic society are undermined. Learning is reduced to standardized tests scores, rather than a process that both promotes students’ academic and social/emotional learning and prepares students to become critical-thinkers and active participants in a democratic society.
  • Race to the Top - RTTTA federal policy that mandates the increased use of high-stakes tests in all areas of education
  • Annual Professional Performance Review - APPRNew York State’s mandated process for using students' test scores to evaluate teachers
  • Common Core State Standards - CCSSNational educational standards, often tied to state-imposed, corporate-developed curriculum, and linked to national, high-stakes tests.
  • There is no evidence to indicate that any of these policies have improved, or will improve, public education.
  • High-stakes tests are neither reliable nor valid measures of student learning; they contribute to a narrowing of the curriculum as the focus becomes "teaching to the test".
  • Educational decision-making and spending by local schools and communities is being undermined. 
  • Corporations are making billions of dollars on testing, testing equipment, and materials - diverting precious tax dollars from local districts' priorities. For example, the Pearson Corporation made $9.5 billion in 2011.

  • Student confidence and self-worth is undermined Students take tests the first week of school on material they don’t know, causing unnecessary stress and making them feel inadequate. These tests are not to help students, but are used only to evaluate teachers.
  • Curriculum is narrowed Teachers feel compelled to "teach to the test" and not use multi-cultural, student-centered approaches to meet the needs of their diverse students. 
  • School leaders are losing time for important work Principals and other administrators are pulled away from their school responsibilities to spend hundreds of hours evaluating teachers using a complex, state-imposed system. 
  • Critical teaching time is lost Teachers are taken out of the classroom for test-based trainings resulting in loss of continuity of instructional time and the additional expense of substitute teachers to cover classrooms. 
  • Student and parent privacy is violated Massive amounts of individual student test data are sent to state and national data-bases without parental permission and without adequate safeguards against misuse. States no longer report only collective data; they now report individual student data.

  • Tax dollars that would have gone directly to schools are profiting transnational corporations Millions of NYS tax dollars are going to corporations like Pearson to support the high-stakes tests on which all these policies depend. Instead these funds could be used to pay for teachers, educational and after- school programs, smaller class sizes, and other local priorities.
  • State and federal funds for RTTT do not cover their costs and districts must pick up the difference The dollars lost to RTTT are very high, as documented in a recent report from CRREO at SUNY New Paltz. In a study of eighteen Hudson Valley school districts, "the aggregate cost just to get ready for the first year of RTTT in September 2012 was $6,472,166, while the aggregate funding was $520,415. These districts had to make up a cost differential of $5,951,751 with local taxpayer dollars."

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